Friday, February 19

Triumphant losing 

Please read 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 

It was the beginning of my midlife years, the time in life when playing sports begins to get difficult. One is slower, less proficient and supremely sore after participating in an event. But the thrill is worth it all.

We were men gathering on the field to play a friendly soft-ball game. I was excited to once again chase fly balls. I had been pretty good in my heyday. I was in right field, usually a not too exciting area on the ball field. After several innings finally a batter hit a ball to the right field foul area. I was determined to make the best of a possible opportunity.

I turned and ran full speed without looking back at the ball. I dodged around a swing set and quickly flew up my gloved hand while simultaneously looking back for the ball. I had only a fleeting glimpse as the ball came flying into my glove.

The catch gave me a thrill that I had not experienced in years. As I ran to the sideline, people were clapping and a semi-pro said he had never seen a better catch. Of course, I knew I was simply lucky but, boy, I was thankful for the thrill of experiencing youth all over again! I knew that such an experience would never happen again.

Aging is a series of “things that don’t happen again.” Losses continually occur as life moves on. Childhood, adolescence, puppy love, romance, parenting, sexual activity — how long can the list be?

How do we live knowing that life brings death to so many things? Perhaps as each loss is grieved, the blanket of sorrow can be the birth-womb for new beginnings. Is this the meaning of maturing in all stages of life–defeating losses with new beginnings? Who really desires to return to ones youth, or wants to live through the pain of broken relation-ships in early dating, or experience again the anxieties of parenting?

Is it possible that the death of these temporal things, the dying of self to the world, is what leads us to experience that which is eternal? Was Christ right when He said we must die in order to live–that the loss of the temporal leads to the Divine?

Lord, we praise you for loving us through all of life’s experi-ences. You accept us when we are strong, when we are weak, and when we feel that there is no meaning left in our living. Through the gift of Jesus, you have revealed to us that we are more than our accomplishments in this world. We are your children throughout eternity, and we have great joy in knowing that our future is to be with you. Amen. 

David Willingham


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